Market Review: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Market Review: Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Positive trend of population growth.
  • Low unemployment relative to past 5 years, 10 years and national average.
  • Strength from many jobs available to support healthy employment in the city.
  • Jobs varieties spread across multiple industries, including healthcare, finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology.
  • The housing trend demonstrates consistent rent growth, increase in supply and declining rental vacancies.
  • Home to many attractions, such as the Tulsa Zoo and the downtown Arts district.

In this market review, I explore Tulsa, Oklahoma, an area I have been interested in since having moved there in 2015 with my family. I also have an affinity for the city since our oldest son was born there shortly before we relocated back to Florida. Having only spent a year in the area, I noticed many young professionals and families, beautiful neighborhoods and thriving communities. I found it to be a particularly attractive area for growth and opportunity. From my review, I conclude that Tulsa is an attractive market for real estate investment and look forward to identifying multi-family opportunities in the future.


Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma and comprises of 25% of the total state population. The city itself is home to 401,000 people and the larger MSA, which includes surrounding areas, represents 1.1 million people.

In the last 10 years the population has grown by 2% from 382,000 to over 403,000.


Prior to COVID in March 2020, Tulsa’s unemployment was 3%. Post COVID, as of August 2020, Tulsa’s unemployment is 5%, which is an increase its pre-COVID rate, but still less than the state’s 5.6%, lower than the nation’s 8.4% and overall 30% lower than its 2010 rate.

The data shows that Tulsa, like most cities, experienced impacts from COVID but to a lesser degree and the city has already shown a rebound in the past few months.

Compared to the national unemployment rate of 14%, Tulsa, at 5% unemployment, demonstrates strength from many jobs available to support healthy employment in the city.

Job Diversity

Once known as oil capital of the world, Tulsa’s job diversity today is much broader and provides jobs for nearly 350,000 in Tulsa County.According to, the top 10 employers account for 10% of the MSA’s employment. The list includes health centers, educational systems, an airline and convenience store chain. Below are a few:

American Airlines (airlines) – American Airlines uses this base in Tulsa as its global maintenance and engineering headquarters and is Tulsa’s top employer. Spanning 22 buildings across 3.3M square feet, it happens to be the largest Airlines maintenance and engineering base in the nation.

American Airlines Tulsa maintenance and engineering base
American Airlines Tulsa maintenance and engineering base

Quik-Trip (convenience store) – Known for its quick and friendly customer service and convenient snacks and meals, the legendary convenience store chain found on what seems to be every corner in town.

BOK Financial (banking) – headqartered in Tulsa and the citie’s largest headquarters, BOK is one of several banks that are headquartered in Tulsa.

Other notable companies that are headquartered in Tulsa include the following:

  • Saint Francis Health System – Health Care: 8,000 total employees and $5B in revenues
  • Helmerich and Payne – Oil and Drilling: 9,000 employees and $2.5B in revenues
  • US Beef Overview – Restaurants/Hospitality: 7,000 employees and $750k in revenues
  • Tulsa Public Schools – Education: 7,000 employees

Tulsa is headquarters to a handful of thriving organizations and job diversity is spread across multiple industries including healthcare, finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology.


According to census data, using 2019 as the current year, median rents for Tulsa have grown by over 12% to nearly $900 monthly from $774 five years ago. From data found on, The same longer term trend of rental increases is observed for 2 bedrooms and three bedrooms, where the rent of $819 and $1,050 are 9% and 8% higher than 5 years ago, respectively. Interestingly, the median rent for a studio in Tulsa is $700 monthly, which represents a 19% increase from just one year ago. This large jump in price reflects strong demand for studios in the area.

Overall, housing Tulsa county has grown by 6% in the past decade to over 285,000 housing units. About 5% of the units were built 2014 or later, which is evidence of growth that also shows potential to find value add opportunities in areas surrounding they key areas of growth.

Today’s rental vacancy rate of 8% compares to 6.5% five years ago and nearly 10% a decade ago.

New Developments
Tulsa has a few exciting construction projects in its pipeline, with the city itself having over $500 Million in planned development projects. A few known projects include:

Under Construction
Valley National Bank headquarters: 100,000 square feet space for the Bank executives offices, completed in 2019
Block 44 mixed-use development – six story office building development adjacent to ONEOK Field in Downtown Tulsa. The project provides over 100,000 square feet of mixed-use space near the stadium and surrounding Arts district.
Adams Building historic apartment renovation – The historic downtown hotel was acquired, renovated and converted into 60-unit apartments in 2019.
Santa Fe Square mixed- use development – Now pre- leasing space as of October 2020, the mixed-use downtown development will feature a 105 room hotel, 291 apartments with a rooftop pool, and 170,000 square feet of of office use space.

As of my writing this, few planned developments are as follows:
BMX USA National Headquarters – An $18 million project to fund a BMX training center for Olympic Athletes
Cox Business Center and Arena District – A $55 million effort to expand the convention center and redevelop and economic growth of Tulsa’s Arena District.
Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum – a $25 million effort to increase visitors by adding enhancements to the zoo including a ”Kingdom Lost Elephants Exhibit.”

The housing trend demonstrates consistent rent growth, increase in supply and declining rental vacancies.


Tulsa has many landmarks for tourism and activities for those who live in the city. Downtown Tulsa is home to 4,000 people and houses fascinating landmarks such as City Hall, Performing Arts Center and the BOK Center. Other attractions or notable staples of the city are the Tulsa Zoo, access to Route 66, the historic Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa.

A few accolades of the city, based on data sources referenced, are noted below. – Best Cities for Teleworking – among Medium Metro Areas
Niche.comRanked among 228 Cities in America, Tulsa placed the following:
#26 – Cities with the lowest cost of living
#35 – Best Cities to Retire in America
#48 – Most Diverse Cities in America
#84 – Best Cities to Live in America
#86 – Best Cities to Raise a family in America Tulsa is a beautiful city that is rich in history and takes credit of a quarter of Oklahoma‘s population.

Overall Perspective

With favorable population, employment and rental and housing trends, compounded by the national trend of population growth in secondary and tertiary markets, I am very interested in this market and will continue to follow and seek oppportunities to invest.



Rodney Robinson II
[email protected]

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